As the long slog of election season comes to a close and Hillary Clinton gets ever closer to achieving something never before done in politics, instead of taking a victory lap or even getting a moment to savor her anticipated triumph, she is being dragged through the gutter by Donald Trump and shamed by a mainstream media pre-programmed to dislike her. For reasons unclear to me, Hillary is being subjected to something akin to Cersei’s “walk of shame” at the hands of the High Sparrow. But contra Cersei, whose crime was fornication, Hillary is being humiliated for the temerity of running for President and her punishment is being forced to expose her campaign’s inner workings to the public.
Trump’s shaming has been as bald-faced as it is reprehensible. Tagging Hillary as “crooked” seems quaint now that he brought women who accused her husband of sexual misconduct to a debate, stalked her onstage, and has accused her of everything from being on drugs to lacking the stamina for the job, mocked her physical appearance and threatened to imprison her. And just when you thought he could go no lower, he has now begun ranting about a rigged election that is setting up a situation where millions may simply not accept a Clinton win.
While Trump’s actions are predictable, the media pile on has been equally embarrassing. Has a candidate for high office ever had the inner workings of their office so thoroughly exposed? Reporters practically “Mean Girl”-ed Hillary’s State Department email, culling through thousands of missives to find such plums as what shows the Secretary wanted DVR’d while ignoring an ocean of substantive policy work she engaged in during her time in Foggy Bottom. We are now living through a second round of email shaming with the selective leaking of email from her campaign chairman, John Podesta. Putting aside the fact that we do not even know if these communications have been tampered with, the supposed scandal of these email is really just the 101s of politics – managing the competing interests of groups that support you, cultivating relationships, and assessing the pros and cons of various policy positions.
Hardly the stuff of controversy, but no Presidential candidate has ever had so much information about their internal process so publicly exposed. Indeed, I hazard to guess that the same behind-the-scenes machinations would be found if anyone stole and leaked email from any candidate running for national office, but because it is Hillary, the media narrative gets reinforced that she is somehow duplicitous or scheming, that her actions are in some way nefarious or two-faced. The media can now pick apart the after-action report on an early campaign visit to a Chipotle in Ohio but cannot be bothered to report on a major policy initiative she announced on decreasing poverty in the heat of Trump’s carpet bombing of her.
It is sad, really. What should be a final sprint to the finish line of election day that is filled with equal parts exhilaration and trepidation will instead by a sort of Bataan Death March of gloom and doom, fearing some suspicious email leak even as Trump conditions his most rabid supporters to deny a Clinton victory as some rigged conspiracy between her and the media. Instead of celebrating the accomplishment of electing the first woman President, she is being publicly humiliated and debased, her opponent denying her the fair victory she will win and the media teeing up stories that she will lack a mandate and would have lost but for the uniquely noxious opponent she beat.
Such an outcome is an insult to her millions of supporters, the campaign team that worked tirelessly to elect her, and to Hillary herself. But instead of complaining (and lord knows if she did, she would never hear the end of it from the mainstream media) or shaking her fist at the indignity of her singular accomplishment being minimized and delegitimized, this former First Lady will follow the advice of the current one – when they go low, we go high.
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